The top 3 images I will always remember from Santiago, Chile:

  1. Santiago is the first city I remember seeing street performers in front of stopped traffic. Through my thorough research since then, I have found that this is a fairly common thing in Southern Chile and Argentina. I have found that this is a very male dominated industry where I am yet to see a Peso be made, but there must be a market for it due to the numbers of performers that hang around at their favourite traffic lights. The best performance I’ve seen was actually the first, and in honesty, I was a bit worried as I walked towards these two amigos. During their 20 — 30 second act, they interchangeably juggled ten pins at the speed of Usain Bolt tying his shoe laces. From a car in front I imagine that it looked like one man with four arms and a face that changes enough for you to think that maybe you should pull over for a power nap. I was very glad to see that the “Buenas Dias” they shouted as they walked towards me was directed at the traffic they were performing for and not the gringo that I had paranoidly assumed that they were fixing to mug with 3 ten pins.

Not that it’s a competition, but the second best was an hombre who pumped out a dance track from a portable speaker and proceeded to acrobatically put his body through a well rehearsed routine resembling a cross between a breakdance and an aerobics routine from the 80s, minus the fluro head band and leg warmers. It made me wonder… Could a bloke from Australia, with some of the best interpretive dance moves in the known universe (in my humble opinion) make a living off this if times got tough? I’ll be sure to remember it as an option.

2. Secondly, from the time I was dropped at my hotel (that’s right, the first part of this journey is flash-packing) in the centre of Santiago, there were rugs on one side of the wide footpaths of O’Higgins, (the Main Street in just about every town we have stopped through so far), selling everything from your standard tourist merchandise of knock off. sunglasses and phone chargers, to massive cakes that were sold by the slice. There was also a pen full of perros (puppies) and the strangest, however probably the most relevant given the content of sugar of most foods available, was a diabetes consultation by two men who looked very legit in their plain white lab coats and “sethoscopes”. I muffled my ure to say “Hiiiiii everybody!” As I walked past, thinking that it may either be lost in translation or too cheeky for a single gringo to get away with.

3. The third thing I will have a hard time forgetting happened as a result of the 35 hour day (not 38 as I wrongly calculated in my last post due to my jet lagged stupor) en route to Santiago. After 5 hours sleep, I woke to a cracking day where I decided to walk up to the only mentionable attraction in Santiago, the statue of the Virgin Mary overlooking the city, and then, after a quick siesta I joined my tour group for a nice Italian meal before bed. As we’re still getting to know each other, I should give you a heads up that I can be a little cheeky. As a teacher, I am more aware than most that when working with large groups, reiterating important pieces of information is a necessary evil if you want people to follow your instructions. Therefore, our tour leader Kim had informed us a few times that we would be leaving the hotel at 8am sharp the next morning and therefore we should be down stairs with our bags at 7:45am. As the pristine white ceramic of my plate was in plain sight, just like Mum taught us, and my share of the bill had been paid, I decided it was time for me to head off to bed to try to get a decent sleep before the next day’s 10 — 12 hour drive to Pucón.

As a massive generalization, teachers really are the worst students. So, as I left dinner, with a Cheshire Cat like grin on my face, I couldn’t help myself but to say to Kim, “See you at 9am yeah?!” I didn’t check for her reaction to this tounge in cheek jibe, but the next time I saw her… Let’s just say, I never want to see that face again! I was sharing a room with a 19 year old Swiss/Italian lad called Vincenzo who, before this tour had been to Australia and New Zealand, where he stayed with family and developed his English Language skills, as well as Peru and Bolivia, where he mastered the art of Españiano. As the older statesman, I was entrusted with ensuring that we got up on time to be breakfasted and have our bags to the bus in time to snag the best seats for spreading out our long legs for the marginally longer journey. I set my iPhoñe alarm for 6:30am, to give us plenty of time, as I didn’t have he headspace to talk to my new young friend about morning routine, and got into bed.

The next thing I remember after my head hitting the pillow was the sound of a Norwich born, world traveller hitting the door three times in quick succession with the impact I hope to never feel on my cheeky face. I bounced out of bed, looking immaculate in my black Bonds budgie smugglers and hair in twelve different directions, to see Kim with steam pouring out of both ears. Before I could say anything she said “We’re leaving! You have 5 minutes” before she turned to walk away, presumably before she gave in to the urge to smack the dried drool off the side of my smug face.

“Shit! WTF happened to my alarm? I can see that it’s on. Is it set for Australian time?” I said as I rushed around piling stuff into bags like the Tasmanian Devil character from Warner Brothers, however probably less coherently. Nothing we could do about it now but to rush on to the bus with ours head down to avoid eye contact, sincerely apologize to our fellow passengers for our lateness and hope to god that we don’t hit rush hour somewhere as a result of our tardiness. I will never forget the fury in those brown eyes and as Chris and Anna have so rightly said, Karma comes back to bite you. So I wonder if that is Karma for my cheeky comment, or Karma for the countless dirty looks I’ve given students over the years as a result of being just like me?

For the record, when setting your alarm on an iPhoñe on a Saturday night, be sure to check that your alarm is not set for “weekdays” if you want it to wake you on a Sunday ;) Lesson learned!

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